Sunrise From New Mexico and California Berries

On a pre-dawn Wednesday this week, I was on a plane from Albuquerque to Denver with a connection to San Francisco. It was dark at take-off. The lights of the city sparkled against the black desert that met obscure sky. On the vast horizon I could see shapes of mountains and the lights of Santa Fe.


Then, the eastern sky began to explode in color after the first sliver of orange cast a magic glow on the clouds. I realized I was grateful for the three-thirty morning wake-up so I could get to see this.

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Mexico is ever-present in New Mexico. The tales of conquest, weaving culture, adobe homesteads, Native American art and crafts, and blue corn are integrated into the physical and historical landscape. It is easy to transition from one place to the other. Both are conducive to a more relaxed lifestyle and many of my Santa Fe friends spent lots of time in Oaxaca, especially in winter.

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I’m here in Santa Cruz, California, now for one of my regular visits with my 98-year-old mother, sister and brother-in-law. California is another place where Spanish and then Mexican life prevailed before becoming a U.S. territory then state.

As Barbara and I approached and drove beyond San Juan Bautista and the historic mission yesterday, we passed fields of farm workers tending the fruit and vegetables we eat. Are they undocumented?  Likely. They harvest Driscoll strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and other brands we know from our supermarket shelves.

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Acres of red and green lettuces, and chard are laid out like a Mondrian painting. The workers kneel toward earth as if in prayer, just like in Mexico.  Their heads are covered, their bodies shielded from sun by long sleeve shirts. Some rise, stretch arms skyward, taking a break from back-breaking picking. Here the land is more fertile and the pay is better.  Eight thousand dollars a year is a lot in Mexico. Signs along the California 156 shout out Trabajo Disponible — work available. This is not a job for sissies.

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We were on our way to see Dr. Paul, an orthopedic surgeon, to examine my bad right knee, hurting since early July when I did too many dancing twists at a Best of the Beatles party in Teotitlan del Valle. Difficult for sustained walking. No broken bones, but after a cortisone injection and not much relief,  I’m considering a postponement of a year-in-the-planning trip to Barcelona with a September 16 departure.

Should I go it alone now or wait until spring and travel with my sister?  What do you think? And, why?

6 responses to “Sunrise From New Mexico and California Berries

  1. I have had many serious orthopedic events in my life so I can say with experience that if you decide to go rest frequently during the day and take a break mid day-go to the hotel-lay down elevate your knee above your heart and ice it. Ice Ice Ice. Also again at the end of the day. Aleve (if you can take it) is a great anti-inflamatory-take one in the morning and one at night. Listen to your body. Sit at a cafe ,breathe and enjoy. You don’t have to be running around all day. Take a fold up travel cane for a little support
    Have fun
    Bev in Connecticut

    • Hi, Bev. Thanks so much for this great advice. I actually decided to postpone until spring when I can figure out what’s wrong with my knee (will get an MRI in NC this week). And then, heal it. In spring, my sister can go with me and I’ll feel better about having a traveling companion. Now, I’ve been icing and taking ibuprofen, just as you suggest. More ice! I think your advice about taking it is easy is good for any travel, whether one has an injury or not. Abrazos, Norma

    I’ve been rereading “Women Who Run With the Wolves” and in particular the story of Vaselisa and the little doll in her pocket representing her intuition. I think of your question and I wonder what your little doll is telling you?
    I have struggled with chronic pain in my right (weaving ) hand for months now and because I ignored my body’s signs for me to slow down, I have come to the place of continuous pain. I have had to ask myself “why now”? just when I am ready to take off and get really good at something that really brings me joy. What is my life like if I can’t do what I imagined I would be doing for many years to come? I have decided to listen to my body and take a time of rest and reevaluate (at my birthday in December). That’s what my intuition tells me, if my story helps you at all. I know I will weave again. And you will continue to travel and explore.

    • Yes, it’s a dilemma for me. The cost to cancel and rebook with other routings will cost me as much as the hotels on the trip. So, I’m inclined to go ahead with the original travel plan and do the best I can. If i don’t cover as much territory I can always go backs. I have lots of frequent flyer miles to use, fortunately. Hope your recovery is smooth and fast, Claudia. And I must get that book. All my best, Norma

  3. I would wait until your sister can go with you. Would you want to be alone overseas if your knee gets really bad? Been there. Meanwhile, chill out over lunch at Zelda’s. Bruce A.

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